Low Turnout Could Swing Election Results

by ARLnow.com March 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm 3,508 46 Comments

All bets are off for today’s County Board special election, as a combination of a third party candidate and historically low voter turnout mean that it’s anybody’s guess who will emerge victorious.

Two out of the past three times the turnout of a County Board special election was below 19,000, a Republican ended up winning. This year, it’s looking unlikely that even 15,000 votes will be cast out of the pool of 122,882 active registered voters in Arlington.

“I think it’s probably going to end up maybe being 10 to 12 percent [turnout], and I may be overestimating that,” Arlington County Registrar Linda Lindberg told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “Usually in a special election we get closer to 20 percent, but I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere near that this time.”

Though past experience would suggest that the low turnout might spell doom for Democratic candidate Libby Garvey, the fact that there’s both a Republican and a fiscally-conservative Green Party candidate in the race makes any attempts at prognostication difficult.

Democrats are hopeful that they’ll be able to rally more voters before the polls close at 7:00 tonight. Privately, they’re also hoping that the “anti-Democrat” vote splits between Republican Mark Kelly and Green candidate Audrey Clement.

Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman conceded that turnout is low, but said Democrats are cautiously optimistic.

“We are expecting a bit of an uptick in the afternoon, but it’s certainly going to remain low,” Lieberman said. “It’s hard to predict. When there’s very high turnout, our chances go up. When there’s low turnout, it’s much more of a question mark.”

“Certainly I think we are in for a relatively close election,” Lieberman continued. “We remain optimistic about Libby’s chances despite the low numbers.”

  • PJ

    great nonpartisan article… really clear to see the hopes of both parties here.

    • Ricardo

      I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. I took the article to be a clear “get out the vote” message to Dems.

      • drax

        Oh, come on.

      • Car-Free Diet

        You really think that Ricardo? Isn’t it obvious that the writer is indicating that anyone may win this race and this election more than others in Arlington, each vote is important – so go out and vote if you want to have a say in this election.

        The fact that Arlington is dominated by the Democratic Party and when there are large, or even regular turnouts, the Democrats win is not the fault of the writer, it is a demonstrable fact.

        What do you want the author to do, hide the truth? We all know what the truth is.

        Go Gang Green! Tebowing!

        • Ricardo

          I hope that is how it was intended. But the only quotes came from a county official and a Democratic party representative. If the article just said “there’s an election today and the turnout is likely to be low,” I wouldn’t have questioned it.

          • drax

            You have a point about the sources, Ricardo.

  • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

    I fought my way through the teeming masses who were chanting “Sic Semper Zimmerman” surrounding my polling place to cast my vote…….

    • KalashniKEV

      Haha… according to the other thread, you must live in my “bubble.”

      Everyone loves Zimmie because of all his good ideas!

  • Pundit

    Garvey win today = Garvey win in November
    Garvey loss today = Another viscious Dem primary battle

    • geezer

      why would it be glutinous?

      • Pundit

        that would be “viscous”…

        • bob

          You meant to type ‘vicious’

          • Pundit

            Allergies and small screen. Thanks.

          • DERPHERP

            I just voted at 4:30. The polling place said they were at about 10%.

  • R

    Well, I voted for the Republican and my Democratic-voting wife is out of town and did not vote absentee…so, that means absolutely nothing.

  • PUP

    i voted for the barack obamas.

  • John Fontain

    when i voted this morning in the 8 o’clock hour, the worker at the polling place said i was the 23rd person to vote there. i was surprised it was this low.

  • G Clifford Prout

    I’ll be there at 4:30. I’m voting Ben Winslow.

    • Skeptical

      Zombie write-in?

      • G Clifford Prout

        Never thought of it that way. But yes. I was a Zombie vote and will be again.

        Poor Ben. Never really had a chance. But it was fun to watch.

  • Pike Res

    Anyone know which non-Dem candidate has the better chance? Because I haven’t voted yet but I’ll get out there if it might mean ONE other party in the Arl govt. Frankly, I walked by my polling place this morning and figured I wouldn’t bother voting since I have never seen a Democrat lose in this County.

    • Mary-Austin

      Kelly might have the best shot.
      I was also torn between Kelly and Clement but went with Kelly because I have seen more support for him (yard signs etc.)
      Hopefully one of them pulls it off. I think having a different perspective is the healthiest thing for the board right now. It will only be for a few months anyway.

  • Reader

    Since I live in a split house (Dem and GOPs), we usually get mailers/door hangers from both Dems and Republicans. For the special we only got calls and mailers from the Kelly campaign. We didn’t hear anything from Libby, except during the primary, and even then we got more calls from Bondi.

    Libby has been absent in the election – Kelly seems to be working harder and wants it more. I hope he gets rewarded tonight.

    • drax

      Because the most qualified candidate is the one who campaigns the hardest. Yeah, that makes sense.

      • Pike Res

        It makes sense when the lack of Dem campaigning means they think they’ve got it in the bag.

        • drax

          You wouldn’t want the candidate you like to have it in the bag, now. Vote for someone you don’t like just to make them pay attention to you, that makes sense. Like flirting with strangers to make your boyfriend jealous.

          Or do you just not give a damn who wins? Then flip a coin, or don’t vote.

      • Car-Free Diet

        Yeah I’m with drax, we don’t want to vote for a candidate who actual gives cares what her constituents think. That would not be the “Arlington Way”.

        • Car-Free Diet

          Moderate away ARLnow to this second message. While this second message has a grammatical error, the language is PG unless you want to protect the use of the term “Arlington Way” so only a select few can describe it.

    • fairlingtonresident

      Interesting — I had multiple robocalls from Libby and Audrey Clement in the last couple of days.

      • zzzzz

        I got a robocall from Garvey and a call from a real live person representing the Democratic party. No calls from anyone else.

  • KalashniKEV

    Fingers crossed for KELLY!

    • southarlington


  • Jim Lawson

    It might have helped turnout if all the candidates had put “Vote Mar. 27” on their placards.

    • OldTimer

      You mean this was not about the upcoming contest in November? Better go walk the dog and vote.

    • TLC

      I know what you mean — I’m a pretty studious voter, but even I only just realized the date last week and made sure to write it on my calendar.

  • Brady

    Just voted for Mark Kelly. One party rule is stupid, no matter which side you support.

  • WeiQiang

    What election?

  • Voted Tuesday

    Garvey’s campaign has been notably lackluster. I voted for her because her opponents are no-talent ass clowns, but she’ll probably lose, and I can’t say she doesn’t deserve to.

  • Junior

    I got 4 calls last night from Garvey. She shouldn’t have reminded me because I’m going to the polls to vote for Clement.

  • MC

    I’m not voting at all. None of the candidates support the things I care about such as the Artisphere and keeping the streetcar option on the table. All of them are pandering to the noisiest lobby interests and they focus on what they won’t do instead of what they want to achieve.

    • Flip Flop Brah

      I wrote in Terron Sims.

  • Stitch_Jones

    Not sure I understand the headline here: “Low Turnout Could SWING Election Results.”

    Swing from what? The results that someone wants? Is there a predetermined result that should occur?

    This smacks of bias. Of course Arlnow.com can be biased all it wants and I will still come here daily because it is a pretty informative sight…but now I suppose I know.

    • The fact that Democrats win every time in Arlington unless there’s a low turnout special election is reality, not bias.

  • TLC

    When I voted at my polling place in Rosslyn (there are more than one, BTW), the guy said they’ve already had a bigger turnout than the GOP primary, for what it’s worth.

    • Arlingtonian

      I counted the number of signs with which each canditate cluttered the streets on which I travel. The one responsible for the most clutter did not receive the most votes..

      Justice prevails.

  • nota gain

    was not aware of the special ballot until a volunteer came to my door monday.


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